Diverse group of elementary students facing away from the camera jumping with their arms stretched up in victory and excitement on a field trip in a green wooded area.

Holistic Student Empowerment: Letting Student Voice Lead the Way

‘Engagement’ is more about what you an do for your students.

‘Empowerment’ is about helping students to figure out what they can do themselves.

– George Couros



Listening with Care

  • Becoming a trauma-responsive school is not an easy or straightforward task
  • Be prepared to address conflicts with traditional school models developed around teacher authority and school rules designed to maintain control and order
  • Listen to students and trust them as experts on their own experience
  • Engage students as full and active partners in school and community transformation
  • A focus on equity is paramount in empowering students

Starting with Somedays

At the start of the year, have every student and teacher in your school complete this sentence: “Someday in school, I would like to _.”

Then, each day for the rest of the year, the leadership (and teachers/staff) do their very best to make those wishes come true.

You will be surprised at how many of the wishes are able to be granted and how much more empowered everyone (especially students) feels at the end of the year.

Moving Toward Microadventures

  • Students overwhelming want more time to be outside and for physical movement and play
  • Microadventures are small, low-cost, easy-to-run expeditions.
  • Consider reaching out to and/or partnering with outdoor schools, community programs, etc. in your area for options and ideas
  • Microadventures ensure equitable access to opportunities and resources that meet basic psychological needs

Empowering Students to Lead

  • Teachers can’t always know what challenges their students bring to school, but they can work to develop healthier school environments by creating opportunities for children to voice their needs and embrace their strengths
  • Idea: Let students brainstorm what they see are fixable problems at their school, work together to problem-solve and implement their solutions throughout the year

The Link Between Voice and Well-Being

Some outcomes that you may see:

  • increased academic achievement
  • decreased chronic absenteeism
  • improved school climate

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